After the baseball debacle of last summer, you'd think I'd have learned my lesson regarding picking my kids activities for them. Those three months were among the hardest of my son's life, and were perhaps even more painful for my husband and me. My son told me he didn't want to sign up. And whether it was wishful thinking he'd discover his inner Ryan Braun (minus the steroids thing), or perhaps my latent sadomasochistic streak, I signed him up anyway.
Every at bat was excruciating, and after the final strike out of the season I swore to myself I'd forever let the kids take the lead on their activity choices from that day on.
As it turns out I was, as I am so often prone to do, lying to myself. Because as my inbox is deluged daily with more after school lessons, weekend enrichment opportunities and summer camps (in February?) than I have the children, cash or carpooling ability to take advantage of, I am finding myself wanting to make gentle suggestions, if not downright demands, on what they should be getting involved in.
For example, the baseball-hater has informed me that this spring will likely mark the end of his rather non-illustrious soccer career. And I am perfectly okay with that. Neither of us is very good at keeping track of multiple pairs of shoes, especially ones with little pointy spikes on the bottom. But what I really think he's trying to tell me is that he'd like to be done with sports forever. And I am not sure I'm okay with that. The kid has a tremendous amount of sixth-grade-boy energy and it has to be burned off somewhere that isn't the living room. I'm pretty flexible. He could try something solo, like golf. Or something exotic, like capoeira , the Brazilian martial art. Or even something like archery. But he has to do something physical---my choice, not his.
And my desire to steer the "activity boat" is even more pronounced with my nine-year-old. I am sure it's some Freudian mother/daughter thing, but it bothers me how much I want her to like the same things that I liked as a kid. So I'm pushing for another crack at sleepaway camp this summer. Or at least a local day camp. I want her to ride horses, swim in a lake and make lanyards out of gymp.
But she doesn’t want to hear about nature walks or campfires. She just wants to take art classes. Not arts and crafts classes, mind you -- she doesn't seem to have my same undying respect for the friendship bracelet. Instead, she's looking for instruction in figure drawing, watercolor painting and sculpting. Sure, a mom can hope that her little girl may yet discover the joy of cabin life. But I guess I should be counting my blessings that she has a great place to learn the stuff she's interested in, right down the street.
Monroe Street Fine Arts Center , celebrating its 15th anniversary this month, is a pretty happening place. From the guitar and violin lessons my kids never quite took to, to open art studios, to the fine art instruction my daughter is clamoring for, the Center offers a great opportunity for kids to indulge their creativity. And I don't doubt for a second my daughter would be just as happy learning to paint landscapes as horseback riding through them this coming summer.
So perhaps I've learned my lesson. And I will let her take the lessons she really wants to take.
And I'm sure I could ask the director of MSFAC if they'd consider a class in gymp or macramé.comments powered by Disqus
Last week, in response to the county-wide Sleep Safe, Sleep Well public health campaign that encourages parents to "share the room, not the bed" with their sleeping infants, Isthmus contributor Ruth Conniff penned a lovely opinion piece in defense of bed sharing entitled "Confessions of a Co-Sleeper."
As much as I'd like to believe there is latent genius in my daughter's early finger paintings, I'm pretty sure her works are not distinguishable from those created by the pointer fingers and pinkies of thousands of other children from across the world.
Seeing Romeo and Juliet this past weekend was a definite reminder that I need to prepare for something that might resemble a (Near) West Side Story around our place pretty soon.
All during childhood, we calmly tell our kids they don't need to be afraid of the dark, thunder or the monster under the bed. But it's pretty hard to keep your parental cool when your kid is about to embark on the one thing that terrifies you. I knew the problem wasn't really with him. It was with me.
Last January, when temperatures dipped below minus 30 and most people between the ages of 16 and 24 did anything to stay inside, a small yet sturdy group of at-risk teenage boys and young men stacked wood and managed controlled burns at Festge County Park near Cross Plains. Five months later, following a temperature swing of more than 100 degrees, Isthmus found some of those same guys removing invasive honeysuckle and buckthorn at Lake View Hill County Park on Madison's north side.
The first week of summer break at our place usually comes and goes without incident. At times, one could argue, it even verges on pleasant. I have no school lunches to pack and the kids have no 7 a.m. buses to catch.
Have you tried getting anywhere on either Verona Road or East Johnson lately? I'm pretty sure a six-month old could crawl to Fitchburg, or across the isthmus, in less time that it takes me to drive there these days.
As soon as the door closed behind him, I poured myself a cup of the coffee he had made and took a moment to let the enormity of what just happened sink in. My son was ready that morning despite my inability to properly set an alarm clock. My kid was ready that morning without nudging, cajoling, or reminding. He was ready, even when I wasn't.
For the past 17 years or so (i.e., since I've had kids), I haven't made books the priority in my life I know they should be. It's not that I don't try. Just this past weekend I had the best of intentions of picking up, and even finishing, I am Malala, this year's UW-Madison's Go Big Read pick. But the copy still sits untouched on my nightstand.
The longest day of the year is upon us. For those of you keeping track, the sun will rise at 5:18 a.m. and set at 8:41 p.m. on Saturday, June 21. All that daylight, courtesy of the annual summer solstice, will provide the perfect backdrop for Make Music Madison, a daylong event featuring hours and hours of free performances in nearly every corner of the city.
Last week, for the first time, I made my way up to one of the open gallery nights during Madison West's Fine Arts Week, the school's annual showcase for all things creative. The scope of the event is huge, with nearly 1,600 students participating, and the quality of the presented works is phenomenal. It's almost as if the school had been lifted off its perch on Regent Street and traveled back in time to Belle Époque Paris.
If you have aspiring authors in your house, this summer offers a fabulous opportunity for them refine their writing skills. For its second summer, the Greater Madison Writing Project, in partnership with Olbrich Botanical Gardens, is sponsoring two week-long camps in August for young writers entering grades 3-8.
There are lots of benefits to living in a college town. First and foremost, there is always something going on -- a lecture, a film series. Maybe even a protest, if you're lucky. And since becoming a Madisonian, I, for the first time in my life, find myself interested in college football.
My passion for the talent show clearly runs deep, but I'm more than just a fangirl. This year marked my second as one of the "Ziegfelds" of the Follies, Hamilton's annual showcase for singers, musicians, dancers and other varied forms of entertainment. Trust me, when you are part of the spectacle's "producing/directing" team you get a new-found appreciation for how hard the kids worked to get up on stage.
My daughter, who turned twelve just this past week, is not legally "of age" when it comes to social media. But I guess, in many respects, especially in those that involve screens, I am a permissive pushover. I've allowed her join some networks.
What adults love about camping -- sleeping under the stars, getting away from it all, the sounds of nature -- can be scary for children. It's dark in a tent. Nothing is familiar. Of course, camping with kids is more work for adults, too. Stay cool, live in the moment. Forget about that lost fork. Making s'mores, spotting wildlife, that's what kids will remember.
I have just returned from a whirlwind, five-day, four-city college tour with my son. You know those "101 Things to Know Before Visiting Disney World" guidebooks that experienced theme park travelers have written to help the uninitiated? I think I am now officially seasoned enough in information sessions and campus tours to give some serious thought to penning a similar "insiders guide" for the junior-year parent.
This past week, against both my will and better judgement, I accompanied 50 or so middle school kids to the Future Problem Solvers Wisconsin State Bowl, a popular academic and skit-writing competition.
It may be a bigger waste of breath than electricity to ask my kids to turn off the lights when they leave a room. If I've nagged them once, I've nagged them a thousand times. No, I've never noticed anything amiss with their fingers. But it appears they are physically incapable of flipping a switch to the "off" position.
I want to say thank you to the Board of Education for allowing Maia to return to class, unquestionably the place she belongs, as well as to thank them for adopting the new policies. But just as importantly, I also want to thank Maia and her family for their willingness to come forward with their story.